Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN...

I suppose you`ve guessed by now that my musical tastes are wide and varied and I`ve often wondered where it all began.   It`s over 70 years now since my father introduced me to `proper` music and I suspect that it was music like this which helped him come to terms with and find solace and simple joy after the five long years he had spent in Stalag V111B having been captured at Dunkirk in 1940.  

This was the first piece of his `proper` music that I remember hearing on the old steam radio and it has lived with me for all these years and will continue to do so, for all kinds of reasons.  There are, of course, countless versions of this piece and I have trawled through a number of them in order to find the one which I think truly does justice to it in terms of sensitivity, tone and tempo. 

I finally chose this performance from the Evergreen Symphony Orchestra under the direction of a stern looking but totally absorbed Lim Kek-tjiang  Here`s the uplifting Intermezzo from Pietro Mascagni`s homage to rustic chivalry, Cavalleria Rusticana...........just close your eyes and listen.

Monday, June 27, 2016

ALL IN A ROW...

How about seeing this every morning?  On a still, peaceful, quiet morning the stroll from Rosevine to Ralph`s shop in Portscatho is halted by this majestic array of Nare Head, The Dodman and the inevitable Gull Rock, all set off by the tranquil colours of a calming sea.   That will do me every morning.......


Sunday, June 26, 2016

THE FINAL RESULT...


I`m having mixed feelings about the European Football Championship going on in France. There is a good deal of Saints related interest for me in some of the games and yesterday`s clash between Northern Ireland, captained by Saints` Steven Davis and Wales, featuring former Saint Gareth Bale, was a case in point.  So I wasn`t sure which team to support.

In the end, Wales won 1-0 thanks to an own goal by Northern Ireland`s Gareth McAuley. Not sure about the fairness of the result as Northern Ireland seemed to be the better of the two teams.  But, of course, it`s the final result that matters, isn`t it?  

My picture shows deflated Northern Ireland manager Michael O`Neill applauding disappointed fans at the final whistle.  And he has every right to be deflated, although I`m not sure about the idea that, as the result was very close, arguably incorrect, grossly unfair and leaving the supporters in a state of angry frustration, then the game should be replayed.   Sadly for the losers, I don`t think it works like that.


Friday, June 24, 2016


AWAY FROM IT ALL..

I suppose I should be over the moon following the surprise result in the EU Referendum - after all, I`ve been going on about it for some years now.  And, of course, I welcome the choice the British people have made to put  priceless democracy above narrow self-interest.  As a result, we seem to be embarking on a bit of a mystery tour;  where will it take us?  Where will it end? With Dave calling it a day, who will be the next Prime Minister?  And, unlike the neanderthal Gordon Brown, whoever it is must surely call an early election in order to legitimise his or her Premiership. 

The Scots, led by the dogged nationalism of Jimmy Crankie will surely use that opportunity to demand another referendum on Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom - and maybe Northern Ireland will jump on the same bandwagon too.  And across the Channel, demands in the Netherlands for the Dutch to have their own Nexit, the Danes a Dexit, the French a Frexit seem to be gaining momentum on the back of Brexit.

So, we have a good deal of mayhem ahead - there may be teardrops to shed ;  but while there`s moonlight and laughter and love and romance, I feel like getting away from it all for a while.  Somewhere like Portloe, where I took this photo about a month ago and where all the sound and the fury seems not to matter quite as much.   Well, I did promise some nice photos.......



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

DOWN YOUR WAY....

OK.  Back to the music.  About 30 years ago during a former life, I was asked to be interviewed for the then Radio Medway`s (it`s now BBC Radio Kent, having spread its wings) series based on the national `Down Your Way` programme.  

The format was pretty straightforward - the BBC presenter would visit a local village, chat to local people and ask them each to choose a piece of music they would like to hear on the radio. 

When it came to my turn I was `advised` to choose something that would not disturb the peace of Sunday afternoon too much - as that was when the programme was broadcast - and I recalled from the days of my boyhood, listening to Down Your Way on my parents` old Cossor Steam Radio that people used to choose things like `In a Monastery Garden,` Mantovani, lots of Elgar and Ivor Novello  - stuff like that.

I thought I should try and push the BBC`s envelope a bit, introduce some edginess into the proceedings, see whether they would go along with my carefully considered `choice.`  To my surprise, they did and dutifully played this ELO classic from their `Time` album.    I thought it rather fitted my image as a modern man back in those faraway 1980s..........I`m still trying    Here`s `21st Century Man............





Monday, June 20, 2016

THE FINAL COUNTDOWN...


As this extraordinary `campaign` for the EU Referendum reaches the final countdown in the next few days, I hope I`m not alone in being fed up with all the claims and counter claims, the confusion of statistics, promises, pledges, forecasts, reports and `expert opinion.`

For me at least, whilst determinedly hanging on to the courage of my convictions, I wonder if our `leaders` realise that the more I feel I am being treated as some lectured, threatened, bullied and dimwitted peasant, the more determined I become to resist all of that and cast my vote in the opposite way to that which I am being hectored to do.

Come Friday when, thank God it will all be over, I suspect that once again I will find myself not only in a minority but also disappointed at the outcome.   But, hey, I`m a Saints fan and I know all there is to know about disappointment and bewilderment, especially now that the Chairman of the Premier League has today confirmed that `all 20 clubs currently in the Premier League are in favour of remaining in the EU.`  Well, that`s that then.  I`ll go back to posting some nice photos and some decent music.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

A MISGUIDED GESTURE ?...


Now, I realise that what I am about to say may find disagreement with some who read these pages and I confirm absolutely that it is not my intention either to diminish the significance of recent events or to lessen the discomfort felt by any right minded person faced with the news of the wanton murder of Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen.

Of course, on any scale, the fatal attack she suffered on the streets of Birstall is a tragedy for her family, her friends, colleagues and constituents and I certainly add my condolences and my sympathy to them.

But, it takes "a matter of major national importance" for the Government to ask the Speaker to recall parliament - something that has happened only 28 times since 1948, the last being in September 2014 to discuss events in Syria   But parliament is being recalled on Monday so that tributes can be paid to Jo Cox.   It is, of course, well meant and doubtless sincere but it might just call into question the wisdom of doing so for, admittedly, a much respected MP, a strident campaigner and, most important of all, a wife and mother, but who has only been an MP for a little over a year. 

With all respect to Jo Cox, the last time parliament was recalled in order to pay tribute to an MP was when tributes were paid to Baroness Thatcher.  The Party Leaders are perhaps right in describing Jo Cox`s murder as `an attack on democracy,` so it is also surprising that the Conservatives have decided not to contest the by-election for the vacancy in Batley and Spen caused by this tragic event, thus arguably compromising the very democracy they claim is `under attack.`.

Virtually every day someone somewhere in the UK gets murdered;  most go unnoticed, some even unrecorded in the media and most are dealt with quietly and with dignity by families, friends and by clubs or societies of which the deceased was a member.   And so I just wonder whether, on this occasion, the `club` that is Westminster might be a little misguided in their reaction to the appalling loss of one of their own? 

Not for the first time, I suspect I may be in a minority and possibly out of sync with the national mood.   Maybe I`m just getting older and older.....maybe it`s just me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A GOOD IDEA.....


I really don`t want to get into all the stuff about next week`s EU referendum - there`s too much sound and fury right now;  too much heat, too little light.   And anyway I made my mind up how I`m going to vote yonks ago, my decision based on some sort of innate aversion to encouraging the inevitability of a United States of Germany.

But I couldn`t help notice that yesterday the President of the European Council, one Polish gentleman by the name of Donald Tusk, warned that the UK voting to leave the European Union could be "the beginning of the destruction of Western political civilisation in its entirety."

His remarks brought instant recall of the words of Mahatma Gandhi who, when asked what he thought of Western civilisation, replied that he thought it would be a good idea.

Cant` argue with that.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

THE PLACE TO BE.....

So, I wake up in the south east powerhouse of England, switch on the TV, get the newspaper and it`s all about the mayhem in the world - Orlando, EU Referendum, ISIS, global conflict, biblical migration, financial meltdown, professional thuggery in the European Footy thingy, the wettest flaming June since records began, Ronald Koeman defecting to the honeypot of Everton (of all places) and so I turn to my photos and find a place I would like to be on a morning like this..   And it brings me at least a little sanity.   Maybe it will do the same for you.......

(Please click on photo for larger image)


Friday, June 10, 2016

THE ULTIMATE THREAT.....


Now, let me see if I`ve got this right.   Vote to leave the EU on 23 June and I`m told that these things are likely to happen:-

The UK economy will shrink
Our trading links with EU countries will be drastically affected
Foreign investment in the UK will be seriously reduced
Public services - especially the NHS - will have to be cut back
Taxes will rise
People will lose their jobs
Wages will be lower
House prices will fall
Security will be diminished
War might break out in Europe
Britain will lose its place of influence in the world despite being members of NATO and permanent members of the UN Security Council
Pensions will be reduced
The value of shares will plummet
The value of the pound will plummet
Holidays in Europe will be more expensive
......and so on and on and on and on.....

The threats are clearly building up and, as Referendum Day approaches, I quite expect them to continue and multiply.   It really would not surprise me to hear before long that we will have the ultimate threat of all.  You know the one.  Verbal Kint will tell us all, "If you vote Brexit, Keyser Soze will come and get you."   

Thursday, June 09, 2016

OUTSIDE INSIDE....

Just above the harbour at Portscatho in Cornwall, there`s what seems to be a very old building.  It`s squat, foursquare and clearly built to last not just the march of time but also the battering from gales sweeping in from Gerrans Bay.  It is the Fisherman`s Shelter, provided for that purpose but now used as a valuable local venue for exhibitions by artists, photographers and craft enthusiasts.

I`ve tried to find the history of the Shelter but it seems to be a closely guarded secret by the good folk of the Roseland.   When I visited there, the Shelter was locked and empty - obviously between engagements - and so I took this photo looking in through the widow, through the interior of the Shelter and out the other side........ Well, it`s different.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016


After over 70 years as a Saints fan I guess I`ve got used to the default condition of permanent bewilderment, spiced with the occasional success but also many disappointments.  The latest episode centres around the impending departure of manager Ronald Koeman to Everton, a team that finished six places below the Saints in last season`s Premier League campaign.

We`ve been here before, of course - Mauricio Pochettino to Spurs and a litany of players to other clubs - Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers to Arsenal;  Clyne, Lovren, Lallana to Liverpool; Shaw, Schneiderlin to Manchester United; to name just a few in recent years.

This time the disappointment is tinged with a touch of disillusionment that Koeman is going, because he consistently vowed - as recently as 25 days ago - that he had no intention of going anywhere and would see out his three year contract on the south coast. But money talks and off he goes to the crumbled ruin of Goodison Park, seduced by a reported £7million a year and leaving us Saints fans once more bewildered in our default position.

So it`s again a question of `next please` for the manager`s role and we wait to see who gets the chance to see if we can make a decent fist of the Europa League and, who knows, once again finish above the likes of Liverpool, West Ham and, yes, Everton.   This morning I looked for a calm head in the storm and found it with someone who knows all there is to know about loyalty.  

None other than Saints legend Matthew Le Tissier who made it clear that, as far as the players are concerned, they didn`t sign their contracts with Ronald Koeman or any other manager, rather they signed with Southampton Football Club.  A telling difference, which gives me hope that once more we can draw a line in the sand and move on at the end of the day, so to speak.  Well, it is a game of two halves, to be fair.

Monday, June 06, 2016

NEARLY THERE.......


Saturday, June 04, 2016

WE`ll GATHER....

We`ll gather lilacs in the Spring again
And walk together down an English lane....


So Ivor Novello`s song goes.  Well, this is a photo I took just over a week ago and it shows what I suspect is the essence of an English lane - or in this case a Cornish one.   What always astonishes me is the profusion of Valerian growing in hedgerows, out of stone walls and anywhere where the soil is poor and alkaline.

There wasn`t much sign of lilac down this English lane but various shades of Valerian - deep red, purple, white - and I wonder why the plant isn`t more popular than it is.   Maybe because it grows almost anywhere and has a habit of seeding very freely so that you see Valerian springing up all over the place - sometimes aggressively taking over from and displacing other plants and flowers.

It goes by several names as well as Centranthus Ruber - Red Valerian, Spur Valerian, Kiss-me-quick, fox`s brush, Jupiter`s beard, etc. and apparently can be eaten with salad.  Not sure I want to try that but I confess to having gathered a few bits and relocated them into my Kent garden where, surprise, surprise they seem to be aggressively taking over from and displacing other plants and flowers.   May be a good excuse to take them back to this quiet, hidden English lane.......please click on the picture for a much better image.


Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A MATTER OF CONSCIENCE...

There was an impressive collection of reading material in the cottage we stayed in last week - just the thing if the weather was less than clement.  But fortunately for us the weather was kind and so I never got a chance to finish reading this book - 101 Cornish Lives by Maurice Smelt.  It is what it says on the cover - a wry, honest look at the lives of 101 Cornish people who have made varied contributions to that far off county, the wider UK and the rest of the world.

On our last evening there, I had just finished reading about Andrew Pears, he of transparent soap fame, born in Mevagissey in 1765, when it was time to pack and get ready for the morning`s 300-mile journey home.  I missed reading about most of the 101 lives and, for a fleeting moment I contemplated stealing the book and taking it home with me.

But, as ever, my conscience got the better of me and so I took down details of the publisher (Alison Hodge, residing in a part of Cornwall I know well) and vowed to try and track down what I imagined to be this rather obscure volume when I got home.   Not for the first time, Amazon came up trumps and the book arrived today, confirming the wisdom of my decision to eschew petty theft and knowing that I can, after all, return to that Cornish cottage with a clear conscience.